Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was one of the first to offer his condolences to the family of Alfredo Di Stefano after “the greatest player of all time” died yesterday afternoon.
The 88-year-old suffered a heart attack on Saturday and his death was confirmed yesterday after he had been placed in an induced coma.
Having won five successive European Cup titles with Madrid, and scored in all five finals, Di Stefano has long been seen as a true Bernabeau great.
Perez, through a statement on the club’s official website, hailed Di Stefano as the world’s best-ever footballer.
“Real Madrid CF regrets to announce that its Honorary President, Alfredo Di Stefano, passed away today at 17.15 in the General Universitario Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid,” the statement read.
“The President of Real Madrid CF, Florentino Perez, and the club’s Board of Directors would like to express their deepest sympathy and affection to his children, family and friends.
“Real Madrid CF extends these condolences to Madrid fans around the world and anyone who feels moved by the loss of the greatest player of all time.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) called Di Stefano an “unforgettable player” in Spanish football.
“The current Honorary Chairman of AEDFI (the Spanish International Footballers’ Association) and one of the founders, Alfredo Di Stefano, was an unforgettable player in the history of Spanish football as well as for his clubs (Real Madrid and Espanyol), the Spanish national team and as a manager.
“He was truly one of a kind on the pitch as well as off it, for his way of understanding life and the wisdom that he generously spread wherever he went. Rest in peace.”
Real’s great rivals Barcelona used Twitter to pay their respects to Di Stefano, who had proved a constant thorn in their side during the Fifties and Sixties.
“FC Barcelona expresses its condolences for the death of Alfredo Di Stefano, honorary president of Real Madrid. Rest in peace,” they Tweeted.
Di Stefano starred and scored against Manchester United as Real won their 1957 European Cup semi-final.
The Red Devils also marked the passing of the Argentina-born forward on Twitter: “We’re sad to hear Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano has passed away.
“The thoughts of everybody at MUFC are with his family and the club.”
Some fans have started to use Twitter to campaign for the Champions League trophy to be named in his honour.